How to Model Roofs in ARCHICAD – In Depth Tutorial For A Wide Variety of Roof Types

By Eric Bobrow | General ARCHICAD Tutorials

Jan 26

Learn how to model a wide variety of roof types and conditions in ARCHICAD in this in-depth tutorial by ARCHICAD master Eric Bobrow. Covers settings, placement and editing. Created in ArchiCAD 15 however these methods apply to ALL later versions.

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ARCHICAD Video Tutorial Transcript

How to Model Roofs in ARCHICAD – In Depth Tutorial For A Wide Variety of Roof Types

Hello, this is Eric Bobrow.  In this lesson, we’ll look at the creation of roofs in ARCHICAD 15 and 16.  I’m working here in ARCHICAD 16, and I’ve opened up the file from ARCHICAD 14. You’ll see that the roofs all came through just fine, so you can actually bring files forward, and you can create roofs that are very similar in ARCHICAD 15 and later. [0:00:24]

However, there are some new options that were introduced into ARCHICAD 15.  Some of them make these roof creations easier, and others actually have surprising complications.  It’s important to understand how to take advantage of what’s there as well as how to avoid some of the surprising little areas that can be confusing. [0:00:45]

So, what I’ll do is take the walls that I’ve already got here, go to the wall tool with the Marquee active, and select all the walls and drag a copy of these over.  Nice, even distance, and then we’ll go up and take a look at them in 3D, and you can see that the walls are actually varying sizes.  What I want to do is bring them down all to the same size so I can start out sort of nice and neutral.  So, I’ll select all the walls. [0:01:23]

Now, you notice when I selected all the walls that they actually say that they’re all at the same height.  That’s because some of them are at that height, but what I can do is I can select any one of them that’s not.  For example, this wall here, deselect it, then reselect it, and what that will do is that will actually then show the last value selected, and now when I make the change, it will affect all the ones that need to be adjusted here. [0:01:50]

Now, there is one individual one that was used for the box gable.  I’m just going to have to manually change that one down to start at the ground level so that we’re starting from the same point.  Now that I’ve created a copy of the walls, let’s start drawing the first roof, which will be a shed roof in this corner.  Now, in order to create that shed roof, I’ll go to the new geometry option, which is a single-plane roof as compared to a multi-plane roof. [0:02:23]

So, I’m picking a single-plane roof and a rectangle, and it will be very much the same.  Just choose the slope, the 4 in 12, go here, and find a pivot line the direction of upward sloping, and then select that roof after drawing it and use the pet palette option to make it a little larger to have an overhang.  Now, we’ll go to 3D, and we’ll start seeing the first changes that we will encounter.  So, we’ll take a look here.  I’ll take these four walls, select them all, change them to be higher than the roof, and let’s take a look. [0:03:00]

The command under the design menu that used to be called Trim to Roof is no longer there.  It’s been changed to Crop to Roof, and in fact, it’s not showing up in the standard ARCHICAD 16 menus. In place of the ARCHICAD 14, we have a Connect menu that describes various things that you can do with trimming things to roofs.  Now, the equivalent of the old Trim to Roof was that in ARCHICAD 14 and earlier is the command that you can get from the right-click context menu called Crop to Single-plane Roof. [0:03:41]

So, GraphiSoft changed the term, and it was in the menus in 15, but actually seems to be only in the Context menu in 16.  The Crop to Single-plane Roof looks identical to the old command except for the name Crop instead of Trim, and then if I, say, crop it here, you can see it cuts this off, but just like before, if I were to take this roof and change its slope down, we’ll see that it does not actually update the wall connection there. [0:04:10]

Now, the only reason that I still use that command, and the reason why GraphiSoft maintains it is that you can actually delete the roof and still have the walls trimmed, and you can’t do that in the later versions where you’re using solid element operations or the new Connect command because if you delete the roof, then the walls will restore to their full height.  You can use this option here if you do want to have a sloped top on a wall, perhaps for a ramp, without having a roof actually sitting there. [0:04:42]

Now, I’ll undo that, and we’ll go now to the option that we are going to use from now on, which is select all the walls here, go to the Design menu, go to Connect, Trim Elements to Roof or Shell, and so this is the new command that allows us to select a roof so that you see that it’s got a cursor that looks like a little roof. I click on it.  It highlights the roof to say that’s the one that I’m using as a trimming element, and the status area says click to select which part to keep.  [0:05:13]

So, do I want the lower part or the upper part?  I’ll click on the lower part, and we’ll get the result as expected. Now, let me just undo that and do the opposite, so I’ll do Connect, Trim Elements to Roof or Shell, click on the roof, and click on the upper part, and you can see how the walls now are sitting on top of the roof, although they still will display the original baseline, and in fact their setting still is set to start there.  That way, if the roof moves up or down, they’ll still understand how far they should extend.  [0:05:46]

Now, another variation here is that I have these walls selected, and I select the roof as well and then go to the same command, Design, Connect, Trim Elements to Roof or Shell.  Here, it doesn’t ask me which one I should trim to.  It says, “Do you want to use the roof or shell that’s in the current selection,” which would be the most common thing to do.  Occasionally, you might want to select a different one, and then you’ll have the option to indicate that, but if I say trim here, it actually trims the underside, just as you’d expect.  [0:06:18]

Now, if I go to the Roof tool here, just to select the roof alone, and press down with the palette, I can go and, let’s say, slope it down.  You can see how the trim is similar to a solid-element operation or, of course, I can go and take it up higher and just like before. It will keep that connection, although I’ll have to raise the walls if the roof gets that steep.  So, that connection is very much similar to the solid-element operation.  [0:06:52]

The solid-element operations are under the Design menu.  In 16, they seem to be back in the Design menu, just underneath Connect.  In version 15, they were a subitem of the Connect menu, and I imagine GraphiSoft got some people confused, saying, “Where is that command?” So, they decided to put it back here in the main menu because there are times when you want to use solid-element operations, and we’ll see that a little later on.  [0:07:18]

Now, on the flat roof, there’s obviously going to be the same as we had in the previous version, so in other words, I’ll just simply drag the copy of this single-plane roof and change this single-plane roof to a zero height, and that’s going to give me the result that you would expect here.  So, we look at that, and you can see the result. [0:07:40]

Now, in addition, if we zoom out here, we’ve got the roof that’s called a skillion and lean-to roof.  That is this combination here of this one shed roof and this other shed roof that’s on a second part of the building.  I’m just going to drag a copy of this over because this is exactly the same way we would work in ARCHICAD 15 or 16, basically just with the single-plane roof option here and perhaps rectangular pieces of roof.  [0:08:14]

So, now let’s move onto where we’re going to use the new styles, and so we’ll do a simple open gable roof here, and this one will be the most basic, and it actually shows a couple of enhancements.  One is that we’re going to be working with a roof system, the multi-plane roofs, and the other is that we’re going to be working with a gable.  Previously, we’d only had the option if we were going to create system of roofs. It would be a hip system.  Now, we can actually do a gable.  [0:08:45]

So, choosing the gable option here, we have within the controls the option to say what the offset is, so this is similar to what we had in the poly-roof creations, where we could determine that offset beforehand, but we actually can determine this afterward as well.  So, in other words, if I create this here, you see how it created that roof.  We’ll just select the roof here or the area and go to 3D, and we can select this and, even after the fact, go in and change the offset, perhaps to three feet, and you can see how it just extended it out.  [0:09:26]

Now, we can also change the slope equally easily.  This is one element.  It’s a roof system as opposed to just two roofs.  I’ll go to the walls here and, again, make them taller, and remembering what I’ve demonstrated earlier, I’ll select the roof as well and go Design, Connect, Trim Elements and just hit Enter, and the job is done.  Very nice there.  [0:09:57]

So, now we’ll move on to another area where this works beautifully, and that is in this series of hips and pyramid and hexagon roofs.  So, I’ll go to the roof tool here and simply switch from the gable version to the hip version and use the Magic Wand and click on this, and you can see how it filled in all of the hips and valleys automatically.  [0:10:27]

Now, it looks a little bit different because the default is for it to be a dotted line.  I’m going to select the roof, and we’ll see where we can control that, so if I open this up and say to bring up the floor plan in the section, we’ll see that the outlines for the roof, when they’re overhead, have a control, and the default in ARCHICAD 15 and 16 is to make them dotted rather than solid, but I’m going to make them solid just so I can see it better, and I’ll use the eye dropper to pick the settings up so that the next roofs that I work on will also have that setting, and I’ll just Magic Wand this pyramidal, this square to create a pyramid and Magic Wand the hexagon to create a similar shape here.  [0:11:11]

Actually, it looks like it didn’t do the overhang quite right.  Maybe that shape looks like it picked it up from the inside, so let me go to the outside edge of the wall and do that.  There we go.  Now, it did that, so you can trace the inside ring or the outside.  If you do the inside, of course, you’d want to have a different set of overhangs, so let’s just take a look at this in 3D and discuss one customization that you might want to do here.  [0:11:43]

So, you can see very easily see what happened, but again, we can select a roof after the fact and perhaps change under the multi-plane geometry the overhang to a different size, maybe make it a little bit more dramatic so we can see that.  Perhaps we’ll change that slope here, and you can see how it can reconfigure the whole thing, which we couldn’t do before, so I’ll undo that.  [0:12:11]

Now, suppose we wanted to make this a gable.  Previously, we would select just this one piece of roof and delete it and then adjust the neighboring pieces to fill in the gap, but now we don’t have that option because if I try to select it, I select the entire roof system, and if I hit Delete, I’ll delete the entire roof.  What I need to do is to recognize, first of all, that there’s a blue outline that is the pivot line for the roof.  In this case, it automatically traced the outside of the walls.  It could have done the inside of the walls as well or the reference line, if I had the reference line offset from the outside or inside face.  [0:12:53]

Now, each edge has a plane associated with it.  In this case, the plane is a hip, but I want to change it to a gable, so I’ll press down on the blue edge, and I get the pet palette, and there’s a new option here at the end of the first row that is custom plane settings, and I can change the slope of this to make it steeper or more shallow, but I can also change it from pitched to a gable, and this will work very nicely to automatically do that.  Of course, then I would select this wall, tell it to get taller, either by typing in a new value here or just using the pet palette to edit it, and then perhaps select the roof and the wall and then go to the Design, Connect, Trim Elements to Roof or Shell, and the job is done.  [0:13:47]

So, now let’s go on to another case where this new multi-plane roof really works well for the most part, and that is here where we’re going to create it.  Let me just show you what we’re going to have here.  I show all in 3D. We’re going to be creating these next two roofs here, so a mansard roof and what is called a combination roof in the diagram.  So, in both cases, there are two planes that are connected with different slopes.  In one case, we have a steep one going to shallow, and the other case the roof first.  [0:14:33]

So, let me go into this area, and we’ll create those.  They’re basically done with the standard controls directly in the roof tool where I add another level to the multi-plane roof geometry, and I set the lower one in this case to a very steep 48 and 12 and the upper one to a shallow, say 4 and 12.  Now, how far it’s going to go up before it changes is set here.  This is similar to the controls we had in the poly-roof creation, and I’m going to go and say that this set should be 14 feet, and this one will just go until it reaches this level or reaches the other ridge line.  So, essentially, it will not keep going if the roof closes in on itself.  [0:15:21]

So, we’ll just say OK, that looks good, and in this case, I want to just click on the two corners, and you can see how it created that shape.  I’ll go ahead and make the other one for the combination roof, which is a much shallower one here, so 6 in 12 for the lower 12, 12 in 12 or 45° for the other one is what I have, and I need to properly set where the break line is going to be.  If I have this too high, then we won’t even see this upper one because it will just keep on going at that slope, so I need to make this just go, in this case, a very short distance, and now I say OK and draw the next one.  [0:16:10]

We’ll take a look at them in 3D, and we’ll see that very, very quickly, with the new options, we’re able to get those two shapes.  Now, the one change that we’ll need to do here with the mono-tiered roof is that the fascia, the vertical sides at the edge of the roof, really look rather odd because this is so steep, and there’s no way to control that before you create it, but if I go to the edge – actually the top of the edge here, not the bottom.  [0:16:42]

You see here on the bottom, there’s no sensitivity to it, but on the top, you can see the mercedes cursor.  Press down on it and go to the command at the end of the first row of the pet palette, the new one that says Custom Edge Settings as opposed to Custom Plane.  Since I was on an edge, it gave me that control, and I can then say that I want it to be either perpendicular or horizontal and apply it only on the one edge that’s clicked or on the polygon, which will be all the linked edges.  [0:17:16]

In some cases, we may have more than one group or polygon of edges – an outer one and an inner one perhaps, and then we would need to use all edges.  Selected polygon and all edges will all be the same in this case, so I’ll just say OK, and you can see how it updated that very nicely.  So, now we’re going to go and look at some of the cases where there are some complications, where it works nicely, but we need to make some adjustments to it.  [0:17:49]

So, we’ll go in and work with a gambrel roof, so I’ll go to the Roof tool.  We’ll change it from a hip to a gable situation because a gambrel is just a complex gable, and then in here, I’ll switch the slope, say to the ones that I worked out for this, so it’s going to be somewhat steep on the bottom and then much more shallow at the top, and I need to tell it how high it’s going to go.  I think I’ll take this up here, and of course the offset is something that we can control.  [0:18:25]

This will work pretty well here, but we’ll get a little bit of a complication. You can see that there are what appear to be four separate roof pieces, and there’s this funny little bump out here.  Let’s take a look at what happened and how close we are when we do that.  You can see that it actually created the gambrel shape pretty easily, but this upper area is stuck out.  Now, I don’t know why it did that in the sense of I didn’t see any place where I could control it, but there’s an easy way to fix it, and that is I can go to this edge, press down when I get a mercedes on the actual edge of the polygon, and then use the option here in the pet palette that’s called Offset Gable Overhang.  [0:19:16]

So, when I have that option chosen, then I can actually just reposition and snap it in, and so you see how it quickly cleans that up, and I can do that on the other side just as easily.  Just press down on the edge, and it remembers that was the last command, so I can just simply click to reposition that edge. So, that works pretty well, and then of course, I’m going to take the walls and make the walls – let’s say connected.  I’ll go to the Design menu, Connect, Elements to Roof or Shell, and I didn’t see a change because those walls are still short, but I can select them after the fact and perhaps raise them up, and they will clean up here, too, as long as they’re tall enough to be on the top.  [0:20:04]

Now, some other changes that you can do that are brand new in terms of manipulation of the roofs, and I’ll just zoom in on this so we can see it a little bit better.  I can press down on, let’s say the ridge line here, and you’ll see that there’s an option in the pet palette that’s for elevating the roofs, elevating the horizontal ridge.  You can see that I can elevate this, or of course take it the other direction, so take it lower.  I can also do this for the ones that are in the middle – in other words, not on a ridge, and if I choose this option here, it will let me get it taller or shorter, but it will basically stretch it along the same angles.  [0:20:48]

So, you can see that it is stretching along the same angle, raising the elevation.  Here, I’m going to take it back down, for example, so it’s going to keep that angle.  Now, separately, we also have the option to move this sideways, so in addition to going up and down, we also have the option to move it sideways. So, if we move it sideways here, we’ll see that it gets asymmetrical, so this slope is different than the other one, and let me just undo that.  Now it’s back, centered.  [0:21:23]

I can also move one of the intermediate points or edges sideways, and then what you’ll see is that as I move it sideways, look at how the ridge line is repositioning itself.  It actually moved, in this case, to the right, and the ridgeline moved halfway because it kept the symmetry on it.  Now, of course, I can end up with something that’s quite asymmetrical here.  If you take it far enough, you’ll end up with something that actually takes off that piece, so it automatically assumes that if you take it beyond the edge that it should take out that plane.  [0:22:07]

We can also reposition the ridgeline that way, so you can play around with these things to get the shape or proportions that you want, and let’s just press down and, say, move this sideways.  You can do this until you get something that looks right, that perhaps measures right in terms of its heights, and you decided you like this particular shape.  If you wanted to get it symmetrical, what we want to do is read off what the value is on each side.  [0:22:43]

So, for example, if I go to this pivot line and press down and use the option for the custom edge or custom plane, I can read what that slope is, either in rise over run like this or in degrees, so this is 81.32°.  I can even copy this here, and then I could go and perhaps go to the other side, press down, take the same command here, and then just type in or paste in that same value like that, and you can see how it reconfigures, and with a little bit of adjustment, you can basically get it symmetrical or precisely position things after you’ve done some sketching, so this can be a very useful thing.  [0:23:28]

Now, we do have this issue here, where the edge is, because it’s so steep, we want to make this perhaps perpendicular or horizontal, and that will clean up there.  So, those are some of the things that you may need to know about when you’re working with a gambrel roof to clean up the edge overhang and also the possibility of adjusting the heights or moving some of these elements left or right.  [0:23:56]

So, moving on, we’re going to look at the box end gable, which also is very easy to create, except that there’s one little tricky part that is important to know about. So, let’s say, for example, that I go back to the roof settings here and just delete the second one and just put this at just a single level and create the 8 in 12 slope here and draw this down.  You can see how it created that.  Very easy to do.  Let’s go to 3D.  [0:24:35]

We’ll see that we’ve got the actual box walls plus the extra piece of wall that’s going to ultimately be raised up underneath the roof, so here’s what we’ll do.  We’ll select all of these walls, and we’ll take them up, say taller than the roof, just like usual, and then we’ll select the roof, and we’ll go use the Design, Connect, Trim Elements here.  Now, you may not have noticed it, but that extra piece of wall has disappeared.  [0:25:11]

Now, it didn’t actually get deleted.  If we go back to the floor plan, we’ll see that this wall still exists.  It still says that it’s going from zero to 20 feet, and yet it’s not appearing in 3D.  Well, the problem is that this roof has a certain setting, which is the default, and that has to do with the section under Model here, called the Trimming Body.  [0:25:37]

So, the trimming body is a new control with these new multi-plane geometry roofs that allows you to control whether the area that’s being trimmed – for example, what part of the walls are actually going to be affected, is constrained or put within the pivot lines or if it’s going to be the contour lines.  So, the contour lines would be the full extent of the roof polygons as opposed to the pivot lines, which in this case are wrapping around the base walls.  [0:26:12]

So, when I change it contours now and say OK, you’ll see that that extra wall came back because it now is, instead of being outside of the roof body, it’s now within the part that the roof controls, and so then I can easily go and change its base, like this, up into position.  Now we have the traditional box end.  It’s important to know that sometimes you need to go into the Roof tool and change the trimming body from pivot lines down to contours down, and this is one of the effects that you’ll get.  [0:26:48]

Now, we’ll look at another set of roofs that one would think you’d be able to do easily with the poly-roof, the multi-plane roof tool, but actually are a little bit tricky.  You have to break them up into pieces, so I’m going to take a look in 3D, and we’ll take a look. For example, we have this salt box roof, and we have the butterfly roof, and there are issues in terms of doing them with the new multi-plane roof tool.  [0:27:20]

One is that in the multi-plane roof tool, all of the roofs that are of a similar type need to be at the same plate height, so in other words, you can’t have it raised up – in this case, one roof here with a higher plate line than the other, and the other is that you can’t have negative slopes like this butterfly.  Now, there are ways to do it, to be sure, but it’s important to know that you have to step outside the box in order to do that.  [0:27:49]

Let’s take a look at how we accomplish that.  So, I’ll go to the Roof tool, and we’ll just perhaps set it to have an offset of zero because we want to make this snug to the wall, and I’m going to just set it up to the slope that I think would be appropriate here.  You notice that when I change it down here, it changes up there as well, and now I’ll draw the box here.  So, very quickly, we get that shape.  [0:28:23]

However, if I go to 3D, and I say, “What if I were to just move this ridge line over?”  I’ll select the roof, and we do have the option to either elevate the ridge line, which would change the slope, or move it sideways, and I can say I’d like to move it sideways.  So, we’re going to get something sort of like that other roof, but it still has the same plate height on both sides instead of being different.  [0:28:50]

So, what I need to do, actually, is undo this and right-click on the roof and change it to a single-plane roof using the Split into Single-Plane Roofs command.  It will warn me that it’s going to delete the original roofs and replace them, if you have any dimensions annotating those roofs, they’ll disappear.  I’m going to go ahead and split them.  Now you can see that there are two separate roofs here.  [0:29:16]

So, I can just take the one on the side and raise up its plate height here and then follow the process that we had earlier, which is to select the lower roof as the controlling one – Command+ or Ctrl+click the edge of the upper roof to reposition that edge automatically.  Select this left-hand one, and Command+ or Ctrl+click the other one.  Now, we have the shape that we want, and of course I can go and select all of these walls and make them 20 feet and select, in this case, the two roofs here and do the Connect, Trim Elements to Roof or Shell, and there we go.  [0:30:07]

Then we can go to the roofs and just make them the material that would match, and you can see how quickly we can get that done.  We basically created the multi-plane roof with a gable and then turned that roof into two separate pieces. It was at least a little bit faster, perhaps, than what we would have done in ARCHICAD 14.  [0:30:34]

In the same way, we’ll go to the butterfly by creating a roof here.  The butterfly, I think we actually had it with an offset, so we can go in the multi-plane geometry and tell it to have an offset, but then we can’t actually change the slope to a negative number.  If I change it from 6 in 12 and type in -2, we’ll see that it actually gives me an error.  [0:31:03]

Actually, it gives me a question on this, but it never changes it to a negative value.  What it was asking about, and we’ll take a look at this in 3D, is it was asking whether to keep the edges that were gables as gables, because it would have actually turned it into a hip, if I had said to go ahead and change the custom edges.  So, what I need to do here, since I’m not allowed to make this a negative value, is I need to, again, just split this into single-plane roofs, and then, with the two roofs selected, I can easily go and change this to whatever negative value I want, and then I’m going to be able to trim the walls to the roof.  [0:31:54]

So, I’ll select all the walls as well as the roofs, and we’ll try to do the Connect operation Trim Elements to Roof or Shell.  Now, we see that there’s actually a little problem with this negative slope, that it doesn’t quite interpret that correctly, so let’s just try doing it in the more elaborate way, where we select the walls and go to the Design, Connect, Trim Elements to Roof or Shell, and then click on this one roof here.  Actually, it’s interesting.  It picked up both of them.  It says click on which part you want to keep from the element, and I’ll try to click on the lower part of the walls.  [0:32:39]

You see, it did not actually trim properly, so it’s not working, and the only workaround that I found here is to go back to the Design menu, Solid-Element Operations.  So, just like in ARCHICAD 14, we’re going to select these four walls and make them targets, and I’m going to select the two roofs and make them operators, do subtraction with the upward extrusion, and we’re done.  [0:33:05]

So, just use solid-element operations when you need to.  Now, moving on, we’re going to go on to the M-shaped roof, where we have the similar issue where we need to create a downward slope, and there are different ways to do that, but certainly one way would be to have a negative-sloped roof.  So, we could go and do something similar to what we had here except make this have another plane.  We want to make this, perhaps, 12 in 12, and I’ll just take this some distance over.  Then, I’ll have a different slope.  [0:33:48]

I can’t type in a negative value.  If I type in -12 or something like that, it will just constrain this to something that’s very close to zero but not zero.  It won’t go negative, so I’ll just put in some arbitrary value here, and I’ll adjust that afterward, so I’ll say OK, and we’ll go and create this shape, and you see that we actually have a rather odd situation here.  Let’s take a look in 3D, and we’ll correct these things.  This is why training and experimentation will get you prepared for these things.  [0:34:26]

So, the little overhang here is controlled by that edge. This option here to reposition – it’s called the Gable Overhang here, so I can just snap that into position, so that part is easily addressed, but then the issue will be that I want to have this go up and then go down, and I can’t get that with the multi-plane roof.  I’m going to go and just move the height of this to make it a little bit better, a little bit more where I think it should be, so now if I go there, it will go up and down.  [0:35:11]

What I’ll do is I’ll split this into single-plane roofs.  Now, when I do this, it looks just fine at first, and it is actually OK, but there is something odd here.  If I select the roof here, you notice that the blue line, which is the pivot line, is not actually in the same place as the seam where the two roofs change.  It actually has moved over to where it’s horizontally displaced from the top of the other roof.  I don’t know why GraphiSoft did that when the split happened, but what we need to do is do two things.  [0:35:48]

We’re going to just select these two roofs here and put a negative slope on them here, and then we might actually move this up or down, if we need to, into position, perhaps using the new multi-level move – this option here, which allows us to move up or down using the 3D snaps.  So, here I can perhaps reposition this.  Previously, we had that separate choice to move it up or down or sideways.  Now, we can do one or both in the same step.  [0:36:28]

So, having done that, again, I’m going to select this roof and Command- or Ctrl-click the edge of the other one to reposition it, select second roof, then Command- or Ctrl-click this, and we need to make sure we’re on an edge.  You saw that dialog box come up?  I need to make sure that ARCHICAD doesn’t get confused and that it can see which edge is which, so if I have this selected, and I am not ambiguous, then I can have it reposition, and obviously the same thing would happen here.  [0:36:58]

I’ll take this one and reposition the other one by Command- or Ctrl-clicking and do the inverse, and now we’re done with that.  So, a few little wrinkles there.  One was the gable overhang, and the other is that after splitting it, it actually was no longer – when I reversed the slope, it no longer was matching.  It sort of pivoted around in an odd shape, but ultimately, you can work with this this way.  You can also do the older way, where we basically just created four separate roofs and just work with them individually right from the beginning.  [0:37:38]

So, at this point, we only have a couple more roofs to do.  Let me just take a look here in 3D at what we’ve done so far on the right side, compared to the left, and you can see that we’ve got primarily these two that we need to work on, so one is called the Dutch gable roof, and the other the jerkinhead roof, and they both can be started with the multi-plane roof tool but then have to be completed after splitting, and I’ll show you at what point that it would make the most sense for each of these and why you need to split them there.  [0:38:21]

So, we’ll go back to the floor plan, and this set of walls here is for where I was doing the gambrel roof, and actually the gambrel roof – this variation is pretty much the same as what the gambrel roof variation is here.  In other words, I don’t need this extra set, so we’re going to be doing, then, the Dutch gable roof and the jerkinhead roof. [0:38:52]

So, let me zoom in on this.  So, I’ll go to the Roof tool, and with each of these, we’re going to switch this from a gable to a hip configuration, make sure we’re set up for just a single-level at the appropriate slope, and that we have the overhang set up properly.  I’ll just quickly create one, and I’ll create the other.  [0:39:22]

Now, if we look at this, what we need to do here is we need to cut a hole out of this one, and we need to have this piece of roof move out and have a different edge.  So, here’s how I would suggest working with it.  This one on the left actually will have a different slope, so in other words, the end pieces will be steeper, and so I’m going to go press down on the pivot line here and use the option to change the custom plane to change the slope.  [0:40:05]

So, I can go here and say that I’m going to make it, say, 12 in 12, which would be the 45°, so that repositions it nicely.  I can do the same thing on the other side – press down, use that same option here, and change it to the 45°, so that repositions those.  Now, having done that, and you can see that the two roofs are a little bit different already, I’m going to select this roof, and I’ll use the option from positioning myself on the edge of the polygon, on the edge of the roof outline, and use the bullion subtraction, and in order to get this bullion subtraction, I need to be on the outer edge or the corner to get that as one of the options in the pet palette. [0:40:51]

I’ll go click and use the polygon option to say that I’d like to, say, do this based on a triangular shape, and I can do the same thing on the other side.  Now, it turns out if I press down on an edge here, I won’t get that option.  If I press down on a corner there, it won’t get that option.  I have to be on the outer edge here in order to get that option to do the subtraction, in this case.  Now, if I wanted to, I could, of course, measure this to make sure that it was symmetrical – same distances, but for conceptual purposes, I’m just creating those holes using the bullion subtraction, and now if I go to 3D, we can see what they’ve done.  [0:41:45]

So, they’re now almost there, but I need to bring this top over, and I need to clean up the bottom edge.  You can see that because this is steeper, it actually extends out further than it needs to, so I need to go to the edge, and instead of using that bullion, I’m going to use the standard offset edge here from the pet palette, which will allow me to bring that in.  I can, of course, go do the same thing on the back end – press down on the edge, and reposition it and snap it into position there.  [0:42:17]

Now, we still have a little bit of an extra piece here that we need to be cleaned up using another method, either a solid-element operation, or changing the edge from a vertical fascia to one that was perpendicular or horizontal might work, but let’s look at the other issue, and actually, interesting.  It lost the hole when I did that.  I hadn’t noticed that before, so let’s go back and recreate that hole.  [0:42:47]

So, we’ll go and do the subtraction here, and again, subtract from this side.  We’ll take a look now in 3D, and you see the hole.  Now, here’s what I attempted at first to do.  I went here, and I said, “Alright, I’m going to reposition this node point,” so I pressed down on it, and there is something that allows me to reposition this node.  Now, if I use the Shift key, try to lock it in a row here, and try to take this out – say, in line with that point, you notice that this hole disappears.  [0:43:38]

It turns out that if I bring this, and I just use the Shift key just to illustrate it, just bring it partway, you’ll see that although it looks like I’m repositioning what might be the upper pieces over, it actually is creating more of the bottom piece.  It’s essentially removing part or all of that hole, so in order to get around that, basically I need to take this and split it into single-plane roofs.  Once I’ve done that, it becomes easy to select just one roof here and, say, reposition this node and use the Shift key along here to snap in, and you can see how easily that works.  [0:44:19]

Let me just do it on the floor plan.  It’s actually a little bit quicker to select this and the reposition the nodes.  So, I can just go with each end and do this, as long as I’ve turned it into single-plane roofs because with the multi-plane roof, it does not allow you to change the border that calculates the ridge line or the hip or valley line automatically based on the plane.  You can’t reposition these things, but now I have something exactly what I wanted, and we’ll just rotate around it so we can see – see the shape there.  [0:44:59]

So, we would want to clean this up. Perhaps if I selected these, and I could have done this – perhaps before, if I pressed down on this and made the edge horizontal and do the same on this one. Make the edge horizontal, and we’ll see this start to have a nice, clean edge, or perpendicular might work somewhat as well.  So, we can also use a solid-element operation to trim that.  [0:45:38]

Now, the one where we have a jerkinhead, where we have just a little piece of this hip at the end, we have to split this.  I’ll split it into single-plane roofs here and then, having done that, I can select this roof, drag this down, say something like that, and then split it in line with the original ends and get rid of the end piece, and then take these and reposition the node right on top as well as add an additional node there.  This becomes a very quick little editing operation.  [0:46:28]

Now, that will complete that, at least on one side.  So, at this point, I’ve got all of the roofs done, again, in ARCHICAD 16, which would apply to 15 as well.  You’ll see that the ones that were single-plane like the shed, flat, and the skillion and lean-to were done the same way but using the Roof option that shows up that would either be the single-plane and perhaps with the square.  This option won’t show up unless you’re in the floor plan.  Then, you can switch there.  [0:47:18]

Now, the ones that were multi-plane that were easy to do were the traditional hip and gable roof combination or pyramid, hexagonal, and the standard gable ones, and then as we got into some of the options for the mansard or gambrel ones, we had some other variations such as changing the edge shape here or changing the overhang for the gambrel.  [0:47:48]

Then, when we got into ones that had other variations such as different plate heights such as this salt box or negative slopes such as the butterfly, or a combination of positive and negative slopes such as the M, we had to basically split a multi-plane roof into single-plane roofs in order to accommodate that.  Then, one other wrinkle back here was that one with the box gable where we had to change the setting for the trimming body for the roof in order to accommodate that to make sure that the extra piece that was sitting outside the main walls – the main pivot lines, was being trimmed properly.  [0:48:32]

So, I think this concludes my study of the main differences in basic operations on roofs in ARCHICAD 15 and 16, and still going through all of the different roof types that were covered in the earlier lesson.  This has been Eric Bobrow.  Please add your comments and questions on the page down below.  Thanks for watching.  [0:48:56]

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(7) comments

Mulati Robert Wamalwa January 28, 2019

Good tutorials

Akilaki November 9, 2019

Very interesting, articulate, understandable, clear English language and educative.

Ahmad Hambali November 30, 2021

A smooth and enlightening journey towards ArchiCAD mastery!

Odette Salem June 9, 2022

Thankyou, I find your tutorials are good to follow. One thing though, I tried both the mansard and combination roofs and neither worked. I ended up only with a single angle not multiple. I tried both repeatedly. Any ideas?

Odette Salem June 9, 2022

I have finally found the right angles and elevations to start with.

    Eric Bobrow June 11, 2022

    Odette – I’m glad to see that you kept trying and were able to work out a good method to develop the roofs to suit your design. If you’d like to get my assistance on a project, and on Archicad in general, please check out my Archicad Coaching Program at I offer weekly live webinars in which I answer questions and will often open up people’s project files and rework them while having a conversation and explaining how to approach the challenge or issue. ACP is also included in my Archicad Best Practices 2020 training course – for more info, see
    – Eric

Amos Irungu October 14, 2022

thanx for your training i’m now an expert

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